Genentech dives deeper into the microbiome, inking $534M deal with Microbiotica to develop IBD meds

Roche’s Genentech unit is doubling down on its study of the microbiome, inking a new deal today worth up to $500 million to develop meds based on studying the gut flora.

The deal is with Cambridge, UK-based startup Microbiotica, a spinout of the Wellcome Sanger Institute. The duo is planning a multi-year partnership to discover, develop, and commercialize medicines for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

James Sabry, Genentech

The collaboration will use Microbiotica’s metagenomics microbiome platform to analyze patient samples from clinical trials of Genentech’s investigational IBD medicines, with the hopes of identifying the microbiome biomarker signatures of drug response, novel IBD drug targets and live bacterial therapeutic products.

“We believe the microbiome represents a new paradigm in biomedicine, both for understanding drug response and as a novel therapeutic modality,” said James Sabry, Genentech’s SVP and global head of partnering, in a statement. “We have chosen to collaborate with Microbiotica because of its high-quality science and look forward to working together to potentially bring new medicines to people suffering from IBD.”

The deal comes with an undisclosed upfront payment for Microbiotica, and up to $534 million in milestone payments.

This partnership comes on the heels of another microbiome collaboration Genentech formed with Lodo last month. In that deal — which could generate nearly $1 billion in milestones for Lodo — the two companies are partnering to develop new drugs based on Lodo’s metagenomics-based natural products discovery platform. The companies didn’t announce specific targets or diseases they were going after, but Lodo’s area of expertise is fighting drug-resistant microbial infections and cancers.

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